Michael Keaton shares the advice Jack Nicholson gave him on the set of ‘Batman’

Michael Keaton accepts the Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television award for ‘Dopesick’ onstage during the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Photo credit Getty Images

In Tim Burton’s 1989 movie “Batman,” Michael Keaton’s Caped Crusader fought to drive Jack Nicholson’s Joker straight out of Gotham. Between takes, Batman was happy to take the Joker’s advice.

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In a recent interview, Keaton – who is about to don the cape and cowl again in the upcoming “The Flash” movie – said that while making "Batman," Nicholson offered some career advice if the movie ended up being a massive hit.

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“In the old days,” Keaton said in The Hollywood Reporter Drama Actor Emmy Roundtable, “I remember I was in London with Jack Nicholson, we were doing ‘Batman,’ and he was going somewhere, and he said, ‘Come along with me,’ which is an experience in and of itself.”

“So, we’re in the car and he’s talking about the movie,” he continued. “And we all knew it was a huge risk, and if it goes down, [I’d be] going down in flames, and that’s going to be a big, hard recovery. But I also knew if it worked, it could change my landscape. So Jack says, ‘Keats, if this thing’s a hit, you can go out and do four or five flops and not even worry about it.’ And maybe it wasn’t four or five, but it used to be you got away with three and it didn’t matter.”

Mind you, this is Jack Nicholson we’re talking about – at that point, his already legendary Hollywood status meant he could take, refuse, or even coast through whatever role he wanted.

Keaton said the kind of career plan Nicholoson was touting wouldn’t fly today, saying you can’t just “cruise” through any movie, and that anyway, he likes to go on his actor’s instinct and dig deep into every role, no matter what it is.

“You get there and the work’s the same, man. Even if you’re going to do a 15-second ad for Vaseline, you say, ‘OK, man, I’m all in,'” Keaton added. “Because for that minute, I don’t know how to not be all in, not because I’m so f**king groovy, because I probably have a fear of lying down, of going, ‘Well, don’t be a d*ck. Do the work.’ You know what I mean? Every time I think I’m going to cruise on this one, I can’t. You can fight it all you want, but it’s in you somewhere.”

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